Kentucky Guardsmen deploy for hurricane relief operations
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – Approximately 120 Soldiers from the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 940th Military Police Company deployed this week to the U.S. Virgin Islands where they will assist with support to civil authorities in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The Walton, Kentucky-based unit departed from The Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville with vehicles and equipment loaded on Air National Guard aircraft. The Guardsmen will serve under a joint National Guard task force when they reach the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Lt. Col. John Blackburn, commander of the 198th Military Police Battalion said the unit has been prepared to go and is more than ready to lend a helping hand.
“We are so very proud of every Soldier of the 940th and the job they do. They are always there to answer the call, regardless of the mission,” Blackburn said. “We’re glad things are coming together for us to be able to help the people of the Virgin Islands. Being a part of the team providing support is a proud moment for the 940th and the Kentucky National Guard.”
The 940th is often called upon by the commonwealth to assist with annual events such as the Kentucky Derby, Thunder Over Louisville and Northern Kentucky’s Riverfest. Capt. Jared Stakelin, commander of the 940th said the experience and talent of his Soldiers are the key to the unit’s successful response to the wide variety of tasks they receive.
“We have been ready to go since first called and are ready be a part of the relief effort,” said Stakelin. “This is not only a MP mission, this is a National Guard mission, and we will be there helping the Virgin Islands until the job is done.”
The Kentucky National Guard has sent Soldiers from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade to serve in various roles in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing have also conducted search and rescue and airlift evacuations throughout the Caribbean and currently have air crews working to assist Puerto Rico with supply deliveries.
“This is why I joined the Kentucky National Guard,” said Private Morgan Slone with the 940th. “This is a brand new experience for me since I have never been outside the continental U.S. I’m excited to put my training to use and help people.”
Overall, nearly 300 Kentucky Guardsmen have assisted with relief operations since Hurricane Harvey first hit in August.
The National Guard has mobilized more than 50,000 to support civil authorities across the country fighting wildfires and supporting hurricane relief efforts since August.